Hunter Biden Trial Watch: Nets Whine ‘Sad & Sordid’ Tale Is ‘Political Punching Bag’

June 3rd, 2024 2:41 PM

Surprisingly, the major broadcast networks of ABC, CBS, and NBC had full reports on their flagship morning news shows about the start of the first Hunter Biden trial to the tune of eight minutes and 43 seconds, but was well short of the 14 minutes and three seconds on April 15 to kick off the Trump trial.

And, while they were giddy at Trump’s starting, they were crestfallen over the “sad and sordid” trial getting underway that’s already taken “a real personal toll” on President Biden as a lead GOP “political punching bag”.



ABC’s Good Morning America was the most excited at the Trump trial (as well as the guilty verdict of the former President), so it came as no surprise they downplayed the trial, acting like Hunter’s a child and Joe a powerless father.

Senior national correspondent Terry Moran was beside himself: “This is a historic case, but it is also a sad and sordid tale of drug addiction and its consequences in the Biden family, as in so many American families. And it carries the very real potential of personal and political pain for the President.”

Leaning into the attempts at sympathy, Moran emphasized Hunter is “President Joe Biden’s only living son” and “spoken publicly about his struggles with addiction.”

Only then did Moran briefly explain what prosecutors are alleging Hunter did: “Prosecutors say that, in October, 2018, during a time they say Hunter Biden was addicted to drugs, he purchased this Colt revolver and allegedly lied on a federal form that he was not addicted to drugs.”

Moran laid it on thick with more sympathetic tones to argue “President Biden has stood by his son” and the trial could “be deeply personal and potentially embarrassing for the First Family” (click “expand”):

MORAN: In his memoir Beautiful Things, Biden writing that in the fall of 2018, he had hopes of getting clean through a new therapy. Through it all, President Biden has stood by his son.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN [on CNN, on 10/11/23]: I have great confidence in my son, I love him. And he’s on the straight and narrow and he has been for a couple years now. And I’m just so proud of him.

MORAN: The trial is expected to be deeply personal and potentially embarrassing for the First Family. Prosecutors are relying on photos and text messages from Hunter Biden, including this one allegedly sent just two days after purchasing the gun. “I was sleeping on a car smoking crack on 4th street and Rodney.”...This trial is expected to take a couple of weeks and Hunter Biden could face serious prison time if he is convicted, although that would be unlikely with a first offender. And then Hunter Biden faces another federal trial on federal tax evasion charges in the fall in the full swing of the presidential campaign.

NBC’s Today actually had a full segment and two partials on the Hunter Biden trial. Capitol Hill correspondent Ryan Nobles led with the fact that this trial is only happening because “the President’s son planned to plead guilty to a series of tax offenses that would have led to these charges going away, but that deal fell apart.”

Nobles, however, pivoted to painting Hunter as a victim, not someone who could soon own the title of convicted felon: “This is not the position Hunter Biden expected to find himself in. The embattled son of the sitting President, who’s been very public about his struggles with drugs and alcohol, now facing the legal fight of his life, a fight that could end with possible jail time.”

“But Hunter wrote extensively about his struggles with substance abuse during that same period of time. Prosecutors have signaled they plan to use Hunter’s words against him from his memoir, Beautiful Things,” he added moments later.

After noting the witness list includes his ex-girlfriend/late brother Beau’s widow, Hallie Biden, Nobles trumpeted President Biden’s coziness with his son and time at the White House as endearing, which certainly wouldn’t be the case if one of President Trump’s adult sons or daughters were tried during his first term.

Nobles also fretted about Republicans focusing on Hunter’s life of ruin “as a political punching bag” and central to a “fizzled” “impeachment inquiry” (click “expand”):

NOBLES: Despite the difficult position the trial puts Joe Biden in, the President has not pushed his son away, inviting him to state dinners, spending part of the Memorial Day weekend with him and publicly defending his son.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN [on MSNBC’s The 11th Hour, 05/05/23]: First of all, my son has done nothing wrong. I trust him. I have faith in him.

NOBLES: But Republicans have used Hunter’s legal troubles as a political punching bag, aimed at his father using it as the basis of their impeachment inquiry into the President, which has largely fizzled.

SENATOR TOM COTTON (R-AR) [on NBC’s Meet the Press, 06/03/24]: Hunter Biden is guilty of so many crimes, he can barely even keep track of them.

NOBLES: And the President’s Democratic allies are brushing off the potential political problems this trial presents.

HOUSE MINORITY LEADER HAKEEM JEFFRIES [on NBC’s Meet the Press, 06/03/24]: President Biden commented as a loving father, as I would hope any loving father would do.

KOTB: So Ryan, how might this trial impact the President as he’s on the campaign trail?

NOBLES: [E]ven though there are signs that Republicans have not been successful in tying Hunter Biden’s legal issues directly to his father, there are other signs that it is taking a real personal toll on the President, who is just worried about his son. And, instead of pushing Hunter away, the President appears to be pulling him closer, just as his re-election campaign kicks into high gear, Hoda.

CBS Mornings largely played it straight with correspondent Scott MacFarlane at the Wilmington, Delaware courthouse. MacFarlane had a few sympathetic notes, such as fretting “Hunter Biden has always been open about his battles with substance abuse, but this trial is going to put some graphic details out there in open court” and then pointing out Hunter’s “been public about his battle with addiction and spoke with CBS Sunday Morning in 2021.”

To see the relevant transcripts from June 3, click here (for ABC), here (for CBS), and here (for NBC).